Research Papers:

Recurrent AKT mutations in human cancers: functional consequences and effects on drug sensitivity

Kyung H. Yi and Josh Lauring _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:4241-4251. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.6648

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Kyung H. Yi1 and Josh Lauring1

1 The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Correspondence to:

Josh Lauring, email:

Keywords: Akt, mutation, MK-2206, personalized, cancer

Received: October 22, 2015 Accepted: November 07, 2015 Published: December 17, 2015


Precision oncology trials based on tumor gene sequencing depend on robust knowledge about the phenotypic consequences of the genetic variants identified in patients’ tumors. Mutations in AKT1-3 occur in 3-5% of human cancers. Although a single hotspot mutation, E17K, is the most common, well characterized activating mutations account for a minority of Akt variants that have been identified in large tumor sequencing studies to date. In order to determine the potential clinical relevance of both common and rare Akt mutations, we expressed a set of over twenty recurrent Akt mutants in three different cell lines and evaluated activation of Akt pathway signaling and effects on growth. We determined their relative sensitivity to allosteric and ATP-competitive Akt inhibitors in clinical development. Most Akt mutants did not activate pathway signaling compared to wild type Akt and did not affect growth properties. In addition, the most common activating Akt mutations, including Akt1 E17K, L52R, and Q79K conferred neither sensitivity nor resistance to Akt inhibitors. Equivocal evidence was found that Akt1 D323H and Akt2 W80C mutants are relatively resistant to the allosteric Akt inhibitor MK-2206, but not an ATP-competitive inhibitor. Our results suggest that the vast majority of rare Akt variants are passenger mutations with no effect on drug sensitivity. The hypothesis that activating Akt mutations predict for Akt inhibitor sensitivity remains to be tested clinically, but is not yet supported by our preclinical data.

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